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Hemingway Adventure

Key West, Florida (fifth day)

Key West, Florida, USA 
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Shine Forbes, the man who slugged Hemingway and lived to tell the tale, shows me some of Hemingway's tricks.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureA local cartoonist called David Laughlin offers to introduce me to Shine. Laughlin is slim and softly spoken, with long hair and a golden beard. He was raised on an Amish farm in Ohio, thinks laid-back Key West is becoming too rich too fast and is contem-plating a move to New Zealand. He has a healthily sceptical view of the local life-style and particularly the Hemingway worship. In one of his cartoons a bull sits pounding away at a typewriter beneath a head of Hemingway sticking out of the wall.

Shine Forbes’s house on Fort Street feels more Caribbean island than American mainland. This is the cheaper end of town and has a quite different and much more seductive atmosphere than the manicured main drags round Duval Street. It’s known as Bahama Village.

Shine sits out in a small patch of yard, drinking a Bud from the neck in the shade of a tree. Chickens scratch and strut in the dust. I’ve noticed chickens all over Key West, occasionally causing cars and bikes to skid to a halt as they potter across quite busy roads. ‘Why do the chickens cross the roads?’ I ask Shine. He tells me that many of them are descended from the roosters who were bred for cock-fighting, which, until two years ago, was a common occurrence in Key West, and one of the reasons Hemingway liked the place.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Key West, Florida (fifth day)
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Key West, Florida
  • Book page no: 150

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